Reward put up for information about war hero's damaged grave

A £2,000 reward has been put up to find the yobs who damaged the grave of a Victoria Cross hero.

Royal British Legion members said they had been 'disgusted' by the vandalism of Colour Sergeant Anthony Booth’s memorial at St Michael’s Church in Brierley Hill.

The incident has been reported to the police and a member of the Dudley branch is offering the reward in an effort to convince people with information to come forward. The memorial to the Zulu War hero is believed to have been pushed over and damaged. Branch chairman Malcolm Davis said:

“It beggars belief that people can stoop so low as to target graves. To target any grave is bad but to target a VC hero is unbelievable. These people valiantly risked their lives for us and that's the treatment they get. I'm really saddened to think this sort of thing is happening.

“One of our members has put up a £2,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution."

The branch member who has put up the reward wants to remain anonymous but was so disgusted by what happened that he felt compelled to act. Members of the Victoria Cross Trust attended the church in response to the damage and have begun restoring the memorial.

The desecration of Col Sgt Booth's grave has led to widespread condemnation. Sir Winston Churchill's grandson Nicholas Soames, who is also an MP, is among those who have spoken of their disgust.

He took to Twitter to say he was 'shocked' by what had happened and called on people to donated money to the Victoria Cross Trust to help with their work fixing up memorials for war heroes.

Gary Stapleton, chief executive officer of the trust, said it was only the second time he knew of a Victoria Cross recipient’s grave being desecrated in the country in recent times.

Col Sgt Booth, who lived in William Street, Brierley Hill, famously covered the retreat of fellow soldiers for three miles as they came under attack from hordes of Zulu warriors in 1879. He was awarded the highest military honour for gallantry by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle.

The Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Dave Tyler, said he was 'appalled' by the vandalism of the grave and called for anyone with information to come forward, adding:

"[I'm] appalled that the gravestone of VC hero Sgt Booth at Brierley Hill damaged. If someone knows who did it, let me know please, in confidence."

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